Big data in Health Care


March 5, 2014
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Health care is an essential service for everyone. Population growth and medical advancement continues to expand the Health care market. Huge volume of medical data is generated across the constituents of healthcare system (like  labs, hospitals, financial systems). These data are stored for future reference but remain largely unused. Technology tools which apply Big data can discover new, valuable insights from the available data thereby make it more useful.

Big data tools cluster patients with similar characteristics. This helps in early diagnosis of diseases based on similar past records for successful treatment. It can identify adverse drug side-effects, costly procedures and delays to be eliminated. This leads to increase in efficiency of health-care systems. These tools can accurately estimate performance metrics(like patient satisfaction).In case of Medical-aid programs, these tools  help in identifying fraudulent claims.ln  2011,CMS (Centre for Medicare and Medicaid) used big data analytics to recover $4 billion.

In spite of advantages, Health care is largely unprepared for big data. Though the implementation of EHR (Electronic Health Record) has increased, still the industry is predominantly paper based. Most Clinical data stored within EHR is unstructured and makes it difficult for effective analysis. The healthcare data is fragmented among various entities and collating them for analysis is a tedious challenge. The existing legacy systems do not support emerging technologies and limit the ability to roll out new analytic tools. The legal scope of ownership and data access can be a major limiting factor for an effective big data analysis.

To counter all these challenges, organizations need to implement a data governance framework that defines the models and best practices to organize, classify and utilize data. Legacy systems need modernization to support the latest technology tools that leverage Big data. Training health care professionals in analytics helps them to understand and leverage the big data capabilities. In short, Big data can be a potential tool for Health care innovation, if leveraged effectively.